Originally published in Playdate Magazine
By Molly Allen
Surrounded by hop fields as far as the eye can see, the Yakima Valley is quickly becoming known as a beer destination. With the Valley boasting over 75 percent of the nation’s production of hops, it’s no wonder the area has become home to a slew of craft breweries, embracing the bounty of the Valley, especially in recent years. But as more brewers begin to embrace opening new craft breweries and taking the leap as business owners, they’re also keeping local families in mind.
The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board dictates who can and cannot go onto a brewery’s premises. According to David Paulson, one of the five owners of Varietal Brewing Company in Sunnyside, whether minors can visit a brewery depends on the license it holds, and the brewery’s licensing depends on production. “Our license to operate a brewery in Washington is the Microbrewery License. There are other licenses depending on production, but since nothing in Yakima exceeds 60,000 barrels, we are all in this category,” said Paulson. “Microbreweries are not treated like retailers, even though we are allowed to sell beer on tap, and non-retail premises have no age restriction.”
And with that “taprooms are for everyone” motto, there’s a number of Yakima Valley breweries that have made it part of their mission to welcome kids into their gathering space. When you’re on the hunt for your next great family hangout, try one of these kid-friendly spots.
Varietal Beer Company
Varietal was founded in 2016 and opened their taproom in Sunnyside in July, 2018. With a vast indoor game selection, as well as plenty of room to play on the grass outside or draw with chalk on the sidewalk, Varietal has intentionally created a great space for families. For Paulson, his experiences taking his daughter, Chloe, to Bale Breaker or the old Yakima Craft to work on homework in the evenings was part of the inspiration in making their taproom so kid friendly. “Our focus on being family-friendly is embedded within our ownership’s mosaic. Three of the five of us have a total of 4 children ranging in age from under a year to twelve years old,” he said. “Being able to find social surroundings separate from the home and workplace, where families and friends can thrive together is crucial, and while in large metro areas there are a multitude of options, in smaller, more rural communities those are not as commonplace. Our own desires to be family-friendly aligned with the needs of our own community.”
Bron Yr Aur Brewing Company
Situated on Highway 12, just before Highway 410 and Highway 12 diverge, Bron Yr Aur is a popular hangout for local families and travelers alike. With a reputation for their wood fired pizzas, the brewery’s menu is shareable and ideal for families looking for a dinner spot or weekend hangout to bring the kids. Plus, they serve kid-approved cheese zombies once a week. With their large grassy area, there’s plenty of room for the kids to roam and play, and they even offer some of their brewery merchandise in kid’s sizes.
Bale Breaker Brewing Company
While the Bale Breaker taproom is a great option for gathering, it’s Bale Breaker’s outdoor space that really offers a place for families of all ages to enjoy. With the brewery and taproom located on the corner of owners/siblings Meghann and Kevin Quinn’s family hop farm, Field 41, Bale Breaker offers a fun spot to gather, surrounded by agriculture. There’s plenty of covered, shady seating and a large grass area for kids to play. Bale Breaker also regularly schedules food trucks, including Guerra’s Gourmet and Tacos Don Chayo, offering an option to grab lunch or dinner for the whole family.
Single Hill Brewing Company
Upon opening in June, 2018, Single Hill owners Ty Paxton and Zach Turner made it part of their mission to create a space for the Yakima community to gather. “We wanted to be an extension of your own living room,” said Paxton. “A place where your whole family can gather — including your kiddos.” Single Hill offers a spacious taproom, with plenty of outdoor seating, as well as a grassy area to play. Inside, the brewery features a kid’s corner with toys and games, as well as a family-friendly bathroom. Since its opening, a number of local families have made Single Hill their go-to hangout, and a local Facebook group of almost 3,000 moms, Yakimamas, designates it as a family meet-up spot from time to time.
Cowiche Creek Brewing Company
Derrick and Maria Nordberg spent years of focus and planning to build their brewery and taproom from the ground up. Located in Cowiche, the brewery offers stunning views of the Upper Yakima Valley, looking out over orchards and hops. But for many, it’s the amphitheater style lawn that the Nordbergs worked hard to create that really makes it a great spot for parents to grab a brew while their kids play on the grass. For Yakima mom Ashley Crawford, it’s become a favorite for her family. “They have a huge lawn for the kids to run around, games and a friendly brewery dog to play fetch with,” she said. “It’s always super kid-friendly.”